The Folding Society

Issue 35 - 19 September 1999


Although my Lands End to Broadstairs (Lanstair) ride has had to be postponed, I do have another outing coming up soon. However, this is really a photographic holiday - a workshop at Inversnaid, by Loch Lomond. Originally the plan was that I would take a  train to Glasgow and ride from there to Inversnaid, stay the week for the course, and then return immediately. This meant that the bike was purely a means of getting from A to B, and as I would have quite a lot of luggage (photo gear, including a tripod), I needed good luggage capacity. To avoid unloading the bike and having to carry it, two panniers, tripod etc, I was willing to book a cycle place, even though I would be using a bike that could be folded or separated. Now I find that there is substantial engineering work on the track, and the return journey is listed as involving a 2 hour bus journey, on which conventional bicycles (or unfolded folders) might present more of a problem. Folder and separable owners score again here - if the authorities are reluctant to allow the complete, unfolded bike on the bus, you can simply fold or separate, and it becomes acceptable luggage. Actually I'm going to use the rail disruption as an excuse to stay a few days longer until the trains are running normally - I hate travelling on buses anyway, as the motion disagrees with me. 

Because of the load to be carried, and the original lack of importance of folding, my first plan was to use the Moulton APB for this trip, with the Bike Friday New World Tourist (NWT) and Brompton SP as the other main contenders. Now that I am likely to do a bit more riding, including some forest trails (using the extra few days I shall be there), and with the possibility that the engineering work might be delayed so that I find I still have to get on a bus from Glasgow to Carlisle, it seems worth reviewing the choice. The SP certainly would remove all worries about having to fold if bus travel is necessary, but I consider the Primo tyres a bit fragile for this trip; I would also need a second bag, and the new touring bag has still to be released. Of the other two bikes, the APB would certainly be the more comfortable bike to ride (and it would offer better vibration insulation for the camera equipment), particularly off road, and has excellent luggage capacity; the NWT would fold more easily if a bus does have to be used, and it rolls along more freely. In the end I think the decision will depend on which camera outfit I decide to take (decisions, decisions!) - if I take medium format, then it will probably be the APB, but if it is 35mm, then it will probably be the NWT.

Having mentioned above, and in another recent issue of FSN, the problems that can occur when a rail journey is disrupted and one is unexpectedly put on a bus or in a taxi, having a folder or separable really is a big advantage. I recall a few years ago that I went on a Moulton Bicycle Club Rutland Water ride, and on the return journey, when we got to Nuneaton we were thrown off the train - the whole of the centre of Birmingham, including New Street Station had been closed (a gas or oil leak if I remember correctly). I had the Moulton APB with me, and had booked a cycle place on the train to avoid the hassle of separating and bagging it (something I try to avoid, though Moultoneer Alan Kennedy, who was on the same ride, regularly separates and bags the bike for train journeys, but using his own light, compact bags made from A0 plastic 'envelopes'). Taxis were summoned for the passengers, but at the sight of bicycles hands were thrown up in horror, and we (myself and a couple of people with conventional cycles) were told, "No way". The APB was then separated into the two main parts - no more dismantling required - and went into the boot of a taxi, and off I went. I'm not sure what happened to the people with conventional bikes - they may still be there! I would not want to rely on just separating a Moulton into its two main parts for regular train and bus journeys - although several owners have told me that they get away with this - but certainly in emergencies this seems to be acceptable. Incidentally, there were 10 bicycles at the same time (only one a folder) on the normal commuting train I catch from Tipton to Coventry one day last week (Centro area local trains take any number of bikes without charges).

Subject to pressures of work, and the opportunity to test the fx8 and complete the tyre report, you can expect to see the next issue of FSN on Sunday 26th September.


The new fx8 model of the APB may not fold or separate, but there are a number of aspects of it which are worthy of our attention. Firstly, from a rather academic point of view, it's interesting to have a bike available in both fixed frame and separating form - it allows comparisons to be made of factors such as weight, strength and price. Secondly, this model has a number of features which would seem to be applicable to the existing, separable, APB models, and it will be interesting to see if they are used on these as well in the future - the Reynolds forks, 531 seat tube and full range of gear braze-ons to simplify future customisation of gearing are obvious examples. We hope to have a full report, including a road test, in the next issue of FSN. 


The tyres of the Birdy have long been regarded as not fully in keeping with the character of the rest of the bike - rather high rolling resistance, and many people have reported that the life of the high pressure version is quite low. Now a new tyre is being launched - some people apparently have already managed to get them, though they don't seem to be available in the UK yet; I have ordered a pair from AVC for testing. The tyre is rated at 90psi, and has a Kevlar strip to make it more puncture resistant; there is also a reflective stripe on the sidewall, and one person who has seen it describes it as having a semi-slick tread. Reports suggest that it may be wider than the old tyre. As soon as we can get hold of some for testing, or have any more information, we will let you know via FSN and the web pages.

Some changes in Birdy specifications are also reported, although of course these may vary from country to country. The information we have (via the Birdy emailing list) is that the Birdy Red is now equipped with Deore derailleur (LX or XT, not clearly stated) and the Birdy Elox (polished) becomes Birdy Black with Shimano 105 cranks, Avid Single Digit 2.0 V-brakes, American Classic hubs, XT and 9 gears.

Brompton and SP (Steve Parry modified Brompton)

My SP is now approaching its first 500 miles; otherwise there is not much to report - it continues to run beautifully. When the 500 miles is complete, we will put a more complete report on the web pages, and notify readers via FSN.

In a previous issue we reported that well know high-mileage cycling journalist Peter Knottley, a long time Moulton enthusiast, had bought a Brompton; now A Ferret tells us that he has replaced his second Moulton with another Brompton.

Odds and ends

With a new Birdy tyre now becoming available, a 16 inch Schwalbe tyre in the offing to suit the Brompton, Micro, etc, and still rumours that Brompton are looking for another tyre, freer running than the Record, but more robust than the Primo, quite a lot seems to be happening on the tyre front. One of the very few drawbacks of smaller than conventional wheels is that we have in the past had rather a limited range of tyres - some of those available are very good indeed, but it is still nice to have a choice. One of the particular benefits of having 20 inch wheels (at least the 406 version) has been that this is the one smaller size in which there are many tyres to choose from (providing the bike has the clearances to take them!). As a result of  these new developments, we intend to produce very soon  a report on what's available in the way of tyres for small wheelers. We'll let you know via FSN when the report is on the web pages - in the meantime, if you have any observations to be included in the report, please email us at the usual address, .

Folder specialist Avon Valley Cyclery acquired the rather nice web site address some time ago. Now we hear that they have added another very appropriate address - The original address is valid, and the new one is merely another entry point to the same web pages, but it all makes it easier to remember how to get there. This site is certainly worth a visit if you haven't been there yet. For this and other links to sites of potential interest, try looking at our 'links' page on the web -

Bicycles and Airports

By Andrew Hague

I have just come back from a week in USA visiting customers and told them I was not bringing a jacket and tie but my bicycle, a Brompton T5. Getting out of Newark airport required negotiating a three lane highway for a mile but it was not too difficult and I went south on the 27 to Woodbridge. It was extremely hot and they were reporting the hottest July on record. From Woodbridge I followed the 27 down to Princeton and came back on Canal Road, the last ten miles of which were on the canal bank in the shade of trees without traffic.

Dulles airport in Washington can only be accessed with an engine so I pedalled fast to simulate. I went to Fairfax about 20 miles away and went along Fox Mill Road. The information desk in the airport let me study their map. It was a delightful ride past some top priced housing in the Washington area.

At Los Angeles (LAX) I got in at 10 pm and had sixty miles to do to Anaheim so I used the Super Shuttle for $13. At least the Brompton enabled me to ride from the hotel to the office the next morning and freshen up. It also makes a good conversation piece.

Airports I have accessed by bike without problems are De Gaul in Paris, Krakow in Poland, Zagreb in Croatia, one on the east side of Rome whose name I forget, Zurich, Birmingham and Leeds-Bradford (Yeadon), Gibraltar and Marrakech.

Heathrow is accessible but I don't like it. You have to go through the tunnel. Follow the green cycle lane and don't go on the footpath or you risk banging your head in the extractor fans. If there is a taxi snorting behind you wave your fingers; I checked with the airport police and the bicycle has priority through the tunnel.

On this last trip I flew United all the way and there was no argument about the bike anywhere. They will ask what is in the black Brompton bag so tell them it's bike parts, which is true. They peer into the bag and it looks like bike parts. Nor do they let the tyres down like the people in Marrakech.

Sales and Wants

If you have a folder, separable, or accessories to dispose of, or you want to buy, remember you can use our Sales and Wants page ( If you want to have something put on the list, just email us the details ( - there is no charge, but please let us know when it is sold so that we can take it off the list.


A recent email from pmailkeey (that's how he asked for the letter to be attributed - his full email address is ), made a number of points regarding my comments on various aspects of Bromptons and the SP, and I'll include a few of them here:

Handlebars: The bendy handlebar stem does not worry me in the slightest. Not like the drops on my previous racer which used to creak something terrible when pulled on.

Brakes: Nothing wrong with standard Brompton brakes if they're adjusted properly and you have a grip like Geoff Capes.

Gears:   I'd heard recently about the possibility of Brompton fitting a 7 speed hub and SP's version is a switch to derailleur - which in my opinion would be a step backwards. The one bike I had with a derailleur gear was not as nice to use as the hub gear - it didn't have "indexed" gears. I've briefly ridden two different bikes with indexed derailleur gears, one driven by "repeat action" levers (RapidFire) and the other by twist-grip. The result of those rides is that my opinion of indexed derailleur gears is another stage worse than friction lever operated derailleur. So far, I've been quite pleased with the 5 speed hub.

On a recent outing, I did have a reasonable hill to climb and unusually selected bottom gear. It left me in doubt as to the value of it as apart from feeling rough, it seemed the increased resistance nicely matched the benefit gained by going down that gear. I have used the bottom gear before, but mostly due to speed and control rather than raw gradient.

pmailkeey also had the amusing observations regarding 'sympathetic riding', and rattles, squeaks, creaks and groans that need to be investigated:

Regarding sympathetic bike riding and listening out for strange noises, I've had two strange noises - the first was from 2 pound coins in the  saddle-bag and the second (this week) again was a bag of loose change in the saddle-bag. Strange how it can mimic noises one could imagine being produced by various parts of the rear end of the bike.


Calais France: La Journee "En ville, sans ma voiture?" Wednesday 22 September 1999, 7am to 9pm
Details were given in FSN 031, or contact Sam Webb:

Saturday 2 October 1999 - Mud Dock
During the August Mud Dock meeting a proposal was apparently put forward to move the location of future meetings. However, the suggested location is usually closed in the winter months, so, pending clarification, I would suggest that anyone planning to go to the event on 2 October should go to Mud Dock in the usual way. Meet from about 10.30am. For further information contact Gary Lovell, Tel: 0117 932 4633.

Saturday 2 October 1999 - Severn Valley Ride 
Meet Kidderminster at Severn Valley Railway Museum Cafe 10am for 10.30. There is a free car park at the station. 35 mile ride with option to shorten to 24 miles and travel back on the Severn Valley Steam Railway. Further details from Sandra Evans. Tel 01562 862701 [Information provided by The Moulton Bicycle Club - event also open to folders]. This sounds like a very enjoyable event if you are far enough north to find travel to Mud Dock rather a chore, or if you are not too sure where the 'Mud Dock' meeting will be on 2 October! I shall be away at the time, otherwise this is an event I would certainly have in my diary.

Saturday 9 October - Origami Ride
Meet in front of Milton Keynes Central Station or in cafe for 11.00am for a tour round Milton Keynes, largely on traffic-free Redways including appropriate lunch and refreshment stops. Yes, we will visit the concrete cows but we will also visit the site of a medieval village (literally the 13th century Milton Keynes), site of a Roman villa plus a number of other places of interest that you might not expect to find in a town like Milton Keynes. For more information please see the web pages at, or contact John Pinkerton on 0121 350 0685.

Rides for Folding enthusiasts in San Francisco
Fall Ride - October 16th
The ride will leave the San Francisco Ferry Building at the base of Market Street; arrive from 9.30am for a 10.00am start. The route will be Golden Gate Park to view the Camera Obscura. For more information, e-mail Tom Vogt ( or call (510-237-7380).
In 2000 there will only be two rides - the Spring (20 May) and Fall (7 October) rides. More information on these in due course.

November 7 : Moulton Day Meet at St Kilda pier Melway 57 K10
Michael Kater in Australia has sent us the following information about this ride: Meet from 10 am  for a coffee at Dennys restaurant at the end of the pier, leave at 11 am to ride to Ricketts Point Cafe Melway 86 C8 for refreshments and Half Moon Bay to HMVS Cerberus. (Bathers optional) Return to St Kilda. A wide  variety of Moulton bicycles will be present. All welcome. Michael Kater 03) 5344 8296 (RSD B183 Cardigan 3352) Email

29 November - 3 December - Portmeirion
The very popular autumn Folding Society gathering at Portmeirion will be taking place as usual - this will the fourth year. If you have been before, then you will know what to expect, and I'm sure you will be planning to come again this year. If you haven't been before, please give it a try, it's an ideal spot for an autumn/winter break with lots of good company, and we have had excellent weather every time so far, despite it being quite late in the year. This is a fairly informal event, and the booking of houses at Portmeirion is done by individuals. As explained in a previous issue of FSN, A to B have agreed to act as a clearing house in helping those who have booked houses find people to share them, or those who want to share to find people with space, so contact them if you need help in this respect. It's important that enough people book houses in time, and the place can fill quite quickly, so don't delay in making arrangements. You can contact A to B at

CycleFest 2000 - Lancaster, 2nd  8th August 2000
The bi-annual cycling feast will soon be coming around again, and it'll all be up and running from Wednesday 2nd to Tuesday 8th August at St Martins College, Lancaster, UK. Quite a bit has been planned already of course, and as usual there's a theme for the sessions - this year it's "Transmissions", and we already have some great speakers booked for this (Tony Hadland, Florian Schlumfp, Izzi Ureili et al) and some interesting new activities planned (50m sprints, midnight torchlight parade and BBQ etc). However, further ideas are always welcome. There will be announcements in Folding Society News, The Moultoneer and other publications in due course. The Cyclefest web pages are now available (, and will be regularly updated as the event approaches. We hope to have a major folder/separable presence at Cyclefest 2000 - more about this later. If you have any queries concerning CycleFest, contact: John Bradshaw, Tel/Fax: 01524 384474 (day) or Tel: 01524 66658 (eve)

Contributing material for FSN

We would very much welcome articles, photographs or any other material for inclusion in future issues of FSN, or on our web pages. Please send any material to The Folding Society at the address given below.

The Folding Society
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Last updated: 19 September 1999